Wednesday, 15 November 2017

The Post Birth Granuloma. A Pain In The...

I've been promising to write about this for ages but it seems to fall by the wayside, I'm healed, I'm fine, it's not on my mind but I've recently had a message from someone who is dealing with the agonising pain that is the post-birth down-there granuloma and I feel like it's time to talk about it. Because during my 4am google searches that started 'is it normal...?' I found very little comfort from the internet about my pesky granuloma. I should mention before you click 'read more' that this is quite a graphic account, because if you have one you need to know everything there is to know. If you're my brother, on the other hand, maybe give this one a miss.

Immediately post birth (episiotomy and forceps) I was bruised and stitched, it was painful but manageable, getting into a position for feeding was sore but it did seem to be improving. That was until the stitches gave way, we're not sure why this happened, one doctor blamed it on a hot bath, a midwife scoffed at this suggestion and said it was due to an infection damaging the structure of the material, it doesn't really matter, although the bath suggestion seemed to blame me so I'll opt for the other, thank you.

It was about a week post-birth that I went back to maternity triage with my split stitches. The consultant said that they don't re-stitch due to infection and that it would need to heal naturally (from the inside, out'). I was sent on my way with some antibiotics to kill infections (although she couldn't see evidence of one). For the next seven weeks I would break into nothing faster than a shuffle, the baby slept very well, the problem was, I didn't. The pain woke me up, and kept me awake through the night. I was washing heavy painkillers back with a big glass of mum guilt-because I knew that they affected my milk-as often as the leaflet allowed, just to take the edge off the pain. I'd regularly run a bath at 3am just to soothe it for a while. A mirror and some gymnastics revealed a bright, pinky red...blob, is the only way I can describe it, which over the next few weeks grew larger, it was connected by a stump that had originally filled the hole created by the split stitch but had grown out flat. Like a mushroom, a flat, big, red mushroom. Because of its location (you know, between the cheeks), the mushroom was disturbed whenever I moved.

I went to the doctor, who had a good ol' look, then called her colleague in to have a prod too, to be honest, I'd have happily let the whole waiting room have a gander if it meant the end of my suffering. The verdict? A granuloma. Great, I thought, it has a name. What do we do about it? Wait until six weeks post partum for things to settle down, if it's still a problem, a referral. I had a quiet sob then carried on keeping the baby alive while feeling like a shadow of myself, waddling everywhere I went, being unable to bend to bathe her or empty the washing machine. Useless. Six weeks after I gave birth, to the day, I called the doctor and begged for them to do something. He made me an emergency appointment with the on-call gynaecologist at the hospital. Off I shuffled for another confirmation that it looks like a granuloma and the horrifying words "they usually wait until six months has passed to do anything about it", but, they made me a referral to an angel consultant who specialises in the post-birth down-there department.

Now, I'm not one to spend money willy nilly, it took a bit of convincing because I believe in the amazing NHS and all who sail in her but my mum found out that for £180 I could see that same consultant the next week at a private clinic. In desperation, I went along, hoping that she would reassure me, I certainly didn't expect her to actually do anything there and then. I hadn't dared hope that much.

Here's what happened. I struggled up onto the bed, dungarees off, heels together, you know the drill. Doctor looks 'it's granulated scar tissue. It means that your body is so good at creating new cells that it's over healed'. 'We can remove that now, you should have come to me sooner' (I should mention here that she works almost full time as an NHS doctor and only does one morning privately, she saw me at her NHS clinic at my local hospital after this appointment). I almost cried tears of relief. She explained what she'd need to do and that as it's not a completely painless procedure it might take more that one go, depending on how I felt. I felt that I wanted it gone.

It went like this. She took some sticks of silver nitrate that looked like long match sticks and worked around the granuloma effectively burning it off. It wasn't painless but I focused on the relief that I would feel, took deep breaths and tried to take my mind elsewhere. And, in a matter of minutes, it was gone. The thing that had been causing me agony for the first eight weeks of her life, gone. Just like that. It was still a little sore but by the next morning, a small black scab had formed, which fell off in its own time. I felt like a new woman. I could bend to empty the washing machine, I could make the bed, I could finally pick up and rock the baby.

Now, she'd warned me that it may return and sure enough it started to grow again, slowly, so at my next appointment, she gave it another zap, I had one further appointment where we said our final goodbyes to my little friend and I finally got on with my life sans pain. It's such a simple procedure and although it stung, the instant relief was absolutely worth it. I just wish I hadn't taken no for an answer because there was no need to suffer for eight weeks. If this helps one person not to suffer for as long as I did then it's been worth it.

I hope that you'll let me know if this post has been helpful and if there's anything else you'd like me to cover?


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